Fast Approximate Energy Minimization via Graph Cuts

Yuri Boykov, Olga Veksler, Ramin Zabih

In IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, vol. 23, no. 11, pp. 1222-1239, November, 2001.
Test of Time award at ICCV 2011 (for ICCV'99 version of this work).


Many tasks in computer vision involve assigning a label (such as disparity) to every pixel. A common constraint is that the labels should vary smoothly almost everywhere while preserving sharp discontinuities that may exist, e.g., at object boundaries. These tasks are naturally stated in terms of energy minimization. In this paper we consider a wide class of energies with various smoothness constraints. Global minimization of these energy functions is NP-hard even in the simplest discontinuity-preserving case. Our focus is therefore on efficient approximation algorithms. We present two algorithms based on graph cuts that efficiently find a local minimum with respect to two types of large moves, namely expansion moves and swap moves. These moves can simultaneously change the labels of arbitrarily large sets of pixels. In contrast, many standard algorithms (including simulated annealing) use small moves where only one pixel changes its label at a time. Our expansion algorithm finds a labeling within a known factor of the global minimum, while our swap algorithm handles more general energy functions. Both algorithms allow important cases of discontinuity preserving energies. We experimentally demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach for image restoration, stereo and motion. On real data with ground truth we achieve 98% accuracy.

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